Whatever you say about our late antagonist, every one of us who calls ourselves an NBA fan has experienced the impact of this fearsome rival on the sport. Perhaps it was just in the details; or maybe it was in some transformative way. Perhaps your team even blew themselves up and began a complete overhaul, just to keep up with this defeated enemy.
And that is why this is not a day of sadness and mourning, but a day of joy and jubilation, when we can finally say goodbye to what the flattering national media likes to call the NBA “superteams.” This is a day of celebration; day like that day in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s tornado transplanted house landed on top of the Wicked Witch of the East.
Ding dong, the witch is dead!
We watched her die an ugly, miserable death this NBA season when, earlier this week, the Brooklyn Nets east superteam was eliminated from the Boston Celtics playoffs and the western superteam Los Angeles Lakers didn’t even make it into the playoffs. playoffs. playoffs.
It was a pleasure to watch these stellar free-agent mercenary teams flopped like catfish into the bottom of the john boat. LeBron and his associates at Klutch Sports Group arranged for Anthony Davis to force him out of New Orleans and then essentially force the Lakers into a deal with Russell Westbrook and his massive contract. Result: Davis was more fragile than a glazed porcelain doll, the Westbrook deal turned into the worst experiment since the Cleveland Indians’ 10-cent beer night, and the Lakers finished 33-49.
As for the Nets, their superteam of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden failed before the season even started. Irving, who makes $37 million a year playing in the NBA, wouldn’t make even a small “sacrifice” of the COVID vaccination, even though he knew it would mean he couldn’t play in the team’s home games because of New York. . City mandate for vaccination.
Harden, seeing Irving’s lack of commitment to the team, quickly gave in and forced him to move to a stronger team in Philadelphia. Durant was stuck on a team that barely made the playoffs before being kicked out of the playoffs by the younger, hungry, and selfless Celtics.
Listening to Irving after the sweep was even more annoying. He spoke about feeling at times during the season that he had let the team down by not getting vaccinated (yes!). He talked about how off-court distractions (which he created) hurt the team’s progress. He talked about how “so many people wanted us to fail” (another presumptuous consequence of being the king of the diva).
Finally, Irving said that he and Durant should take the lead in “managing this franchise” going forward (although he was active enough to include the general manager and owner in future decision-making). Of course, this is the same Kyrie Irving who minimized the role of his head coach Steve Nash in the regular season, saying, “I really don’t see us having a head coach. If you know what I mean? KD could have been the head coach. I could be the head coach.”
Pat Riley has a name for players like Irving who put their personal goals ahead of the team’s success. He calls it “my illness”. I believe that it is this disease that, fortunately, kills the idea of superteams – that is, teams made up of star free agents who come together for the sole purpose of winning championships instantly. Notice how I used the words “consists of” instead of “built from”. You see, these super teams don’t build championships; they buy them.
However, with the passing of the Nets and the Lakers, we’re left with a bunch of teams that basically shaped themselves organically in the draft.
For example, the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 draft and became a superstar and two-time MVP. They built an extensive and talented squad around him, adding quality players like Jrue Holiday, Chris Middleton, Brooke Lopez, Grayson Allen, etc.
The same can be said for the Phoenix Suns. They drafted Devin Booker with the 13th overall pick in 2015, selected big man DeAndre Ayton with the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, and then added free agent Chris Paul and some really good role players. They made it to the NBA Finals last year and set the league’s best regular season record this season.
Browse the list of all championship-level playoff teams, and almost all of them are built around draft superstars and solid role players. The Celtics are built around young stars Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Philadelphia is built around superstar center Joel Embiid. Dallas is built around Luka Doncic. Memphis is built around Ja Morant. The Warriors are back in action, with the roster formed almost entirely during the draft.
The Miami Heat are one of the few exceptions: they drafted All-Star big man Bam Adebayo, trained several other solid role players, and had the organizational headroom (see Riley and head coach Eric Spoelstra) to convince stars like Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry bring their talents to South Beach.
The NBA is alive and well with the good, young championship-caliber teams that have been created; did not buy.
Isn’t it fun to watch teams that have chemistry, camaraderie, and cohesion, rather than a hodgepodge of “super-team” lineups made up of mismatched parts?
Ding dong, the witch is dead.
If anyone wants to say a few kind words about the late Nets and Lakers, please step forward. …
I didn’t think so.
Good night everybody.
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